Volunteer of the Month
The important work that NAMI does on national, state and local levels is made possible by teams of volunteers aspiring to make an impact in their communities. NAMI NJ acknowledges the creative work and tireless efforts of dedicated volunteers across the state. “Volunteer of the Month” can be nominated by affiliates and statewide programs. For more information, contact NAMI NJ office at (732) 940-0991.
As an active advisory member for AACT-NOW, NAMI NJ’s African American outreach program, Edina has helped expand access to resources providing care and support programs for people who struggle to achieve mental health, along with their families. Her passion for helping people of all backgrounds achieve a better quality of life has led her to advocate for underserved populations for more than 10 years. Edina is the vice chair of the Middlesex County Democratic Black Caucus, and the Rent Stabilization board in her town. She serves on the Middlesex County Mental Health Board, and the Executive Board for Middlesex County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). She also volunteers with Jobs for America’s Graduates and Dress for Success, where she helps underserved youth and women, gain the skills and resources they need to start their careers. With her rich experience in community service, Edina has added great value to NAMI NJ AACT-NOW and contributed to its important work. As AACT-NOW is moving forward in the new year, Edina spent a lot of time and efforts contributing to the important planning discussions during advisory meetings and participating in outreach events. Thank you, Edina!
Rachel Stetser came to NAMI as a family caregiver over a decade ago after reading an article in the Gloucester County Times written by Elaine Goodman, then NAMI Gloucester County affiliate leader. Rachel soon started to attend NAMI Family Support Group meetings and the Family-to-Family Education Class. Like many NAMI members, Rachel decided to give back by volunteering her time and energy to serve other families. In 2008, Rachel was trained to be a NAMI Family-to-Family educator, and has since taught many successful classes, educating more than 100 families regarding mental illness and coping strategies. She also helped develop consistent Family-to-Family program in Gloucester County since 2012, and received the NAMI NJ Family-to-Family Education Class Award in June 2018. Rachel also became a Certified NAMI Family Support Group facilitator and frequently conducts the monthly family support groups. She has been trained in NAMI Smarts for Advocacy, and attends the NAMI NJ Southern Region Family Support Workgroup meetings. Rachel has served as a board member of NAMI Gloucester County, and contributed to the affiliate’s attainment of the 501(c)(3) status and its steady growth by working with the affiliate’s president, Anna Guida. Rachel has done a superlative job as an exemplary volunteer. We salute you, Rachel!
Brenda Hahn has been an avid NAMI volunteer and Board Member of the Burlington county affiliate – formerly known as NAMI FACE. As the current Treasurer of NAMI Burlington County NJ, Brenda has worked tirelessly to raise funds, support fund-raising activities, see that all contributions are acknowledged and all new members are welcomed. She is also the Office Manager, dedicated to ensuring day-to-day office operations, and she coordinates the affiliate’s participation in NAMIWalks NJ. Brenda holds regular volunteer meetings, promotes membership, and attends support group meetings to advise of special events and maintain good communication. For outreach work, Brenda schedules activities and provides materials for Health Fairs; in the affiliate’s recent participation in the Moorestown Autumn Festival, Brenda helped set up tables and arranged for volunteers to provide brochures as well as NAMI green ribbons for attendees. NAMI Burlington was invited three times in the past four years by Seneca High School of Burlington County and their Psychology club to participate in their Glow Run in the spring and the Corn Maze Challenge in the fall, during which Brenda helped promote the mental health message along with other devoted volunteers. Most recently, Brenda was instrumental in having Burlington City issue a Mental Illness Awareness Week resolution this past October. She has also assisted in the affiliate certification process in the past year. Brenda is truly an exemplary volunteer who wears multiple hats contributing to the affiliate’s services to local communities.
Dominga Gornell is a great asset to both NAMI Warren County and NAMI NJ, as she plays important roles in several NAMI Signature Programs, and shoulders a myriad of tasks for her county affiliate. In NAMI Warren County, Dominga has been the main facilitator for two NAMI Family Support Groups. She attended NAMI National’s Family Support Group Facilitator Train the Trainer Workshop in Washington, DC. Since that time, Dominga has successfully coordinated two NJ State Trainings, resulting in 31 additional Family Support Group facilitators in the state. She worked on every aspect of the training, including logistics, ordering supplies, welcoming trainees and facilitating the two-day, emotionally intense workshop! Dominga is also a NAMI Family-to-Family instructor. She coached the NAMI Warren County Connection facilitators and gave them the extra tools to have a successful support group meeting. She is also instrumental as the newly elected Secretary of the affiliate, bringing with her high organizational skills. She created the first NAMI Warren County newsletter. She has been one of the best fundraisers for Team Warren in the NAMIWalks NJ for the past two years. Dominga meets her commitments as she balances family responsibilities and NAMI volunteering. Her enthusiasm and energy are infectious as she graciously shares her knowledge and understanding of what it is like to support a person living with mental illness. NAMI NJ is lucky to have such an incredibly dedicated volunteer as Dominga. She is truly an inspiration!
Ginger Siefring had served as Vice President and Secretary of NAMI Somerset in 2012-2017, and is currently the affiliate’s Secretary. She personally recognizes everyone’s efforts not only in their meetings but through her beautifully well informed newsletters. She keeps the list up to date of members, attendees and resources and includes information and scheduled events for many other organizations and groups serving their community. She even serves as a “messenger for Group wisdom” at members requests. Ginger also volunteered as a parent presenter for NAMI NJ’s Educating the Educators program and has been instrumental in assisting Somerset County pursue its Re-affiliation! Ginger is endless energy, organization and support for so many individuals living with mental illness in Somerset County. With a constant smile and positive attitude, Ginger is the main reason their Family Support Groups are so well attended. Ginger is the soul of the Somerset group, and an inspiration to volunteers across the state!
Jeri Doherty is dedicated and committed to NAMI Sussex. She served as its President from 2010-2016, and since then, has been serving as its Treasurer. She chairs NAMI Sussex’s Education and Support Committees, and is a member of its Advocacy and Anti-Stigma, Fundraising, and Community Outreach and Program Committees. Jeri is a trained NAMI Family-to-Family & Basics teacher, and coordinates both courses. She is also a co-facilitator for two affiliate Family Support Groups. She is the Publicity Coordinator, answers “HelpLine” phone calls for NAMI Sussex, and manages the affiliate’s email account. She also represents NAMI Sussex at county meetings of the Council of Service Agencies, the Professional Advisory Committee to the Mental Health Board, and the North Jersey Health Collaborative. When the opportunity arose this year to bring Ending the Silence program to schools in Sussex County, she completed the training, and helps to coordinate the program for NAMI Sussex. Jeri’s voluntary efforts have truly demonstrated exemplary leadership, initiation and hard work.
As one of the earliest members of NAMI Atlantic, Gail Dembin has devoted 25+ years of her life serving NAMI. Gail is currently the President of NAMI Atlantic/Cape May; she effortlessly manages the day-to-day business, and her commitment to supporting members is obvious in the way she makes sure the core programs run smoothly. Gail has been a NAMI Family-to-Family national certified trainer for over 20 years, along with Marilyn Goldstein, NAMI NJ’s Director of Family-to-Family Education Program. As the affiliate’s education coordinator, Gail has been teaching and managing the NAMI Family-to-Family Education course and NAMI Basics course in her county. She has also been marketing the south Jersey In Our Own Voice program for many years and continues to coordinate the program in Atlantic/Cape May. As an ambassador for the cause, Gail represents NAMI in a consortium of agencies involved with the new Atlantic County Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) to law enforcement and first responders. Gail’s hard work and volunteerism has inspired many NAMI volunteers across the state.
Sam Hartman served as President of NAMI Middlesex for 3 years, from 2015-2018, during which Sam has demonstrated servant leadership, helping with big tasks and small: he provided thoughtful referrals to families reaching out, organized fundraisers, encouraged individuals in distress to seek treatment and avoid crisis, coordinated social groups, improved marketing materials, attended events to promote mental health, and advocated for stigma-free communities. Sam also worked hard on increasing the affiliate’s online presence with a new website, and improving the reach and responsiveness to community’s needs. Under his leadership, the affiliate continued the good work started two decades ago. Now they are ready to pursue re-affiliation with NAMI. Sam has recently moved to New York but decided to stay on the affiliate board.
Pamela Eagan is an extraordinary person. She is a real life superhero to the many people who volunteer with her and most likely anyone who has the pleasure to know her. Pam’s actions usually embody the mission of NAMI to improve the lives of those affected by mental illness and she improves the lives of those volunteering with her because of her generous spirit in sharing her talents, skills and knowledge.
She is currently the treasurer of NAMI Union County. She has been a Board member since 2003. She has served as secretary and president and is the Editor/Developer of Union County Resource Guide (6 editions since 2004). Pam has single-handedly achieved NAMI re-affiliation and 501(c)(3) status for NAMI UC. She has produced a binder of supporting documents for the re affiliation and also a binder with info on membership retention and acquisition which she shares with NAMI Affiliates statewide. Pam has also consistently supported NAMI NJ’s statewide multicultural programs over the years.
Pam has strong opinions but always listens to others and considers their positions. She is generous, charming, smart, talented and loved by many!
Mel reached out to NAMI NJ in hopes of securing volunteering opportunities. She found just that and so much more–she found an ecosystem comprised of individuals, families, and communities full of unwavering dedication, passion, and enthusiasm for mental health advocacy. Inspired by her experiences with NAMI NJ, Mel now serves as a board member in her community, NAMI Hunterdon. She was named as “Volunteer of the Year 2017” by NAMI NJ’s cultural outreach program, CAMHOP, for her selfless support to peers and caregivers. Hoping to continue to advocate for mental health and eradicate stigma, she will be pursuing a master’s degree and PhD this coming fall at Rutgers University. She looks forward to applying her graduate training to future volunteer efforts with NAMI NJ.